Canoes land at Lummi Island for the first time in nearly 170 years

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A traditional voyage is underway in Western Washington, and this year, it’s something not seen since the 1800s.

The Annual Tribal Canoe journey returned in 2023 for the first time since the pandemic. It features dozens of traditional canoes traveling the Salish Sea.

It’s hosted by a different tribe each year, and this time, it’s the Lummi Nation’s turn. To celebrate, canoes landed at Lummi Island for the first time in nearly 170 years on Friday.

Four boats arrived for a visit, followed by a cultural exchange with a crew from Hawaii. Another canoe featured National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Fawn R. Sharp. The NCAI is the “oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native tribal organization in the country,” Lummi-based Salish Center for Sustainable Fishing Methods Executive Director Riley Starks told KIRO 7.

“We have been tasked with feeding and sheltering the paddlers before they resume their journey home,” Starks added. “The canoes are beautiful and the paddlers are in full regalia.”